Coronavirus: extended freeze of unemployment benefits

Author: Anne Ghysels (Legal Expert)
Date:

In our infoflash of 13 May 2020, we informed you about the measures taken by the government to freeze the decreasing unemployment benefits during the current health crisis.

As this crisis is not yet over, it was necessary to adapt these measures. Therefore, the following was decided:

As regards the fully unemployed entitled to benefits 

  • The period during which the decreasing unemployment benefits will be frozen, initially planned until 30 June, will be extended until 31 August 2020.
  • The situation of the fully unemployed on 1 April 2020 is therefore extended by 5 months (instead of the initial 3 months). The months of April, May and June 2020 had already been neutralised. Now also the months of July and August 2020 are neutralised.

As regards the artists 

The freeze also applies to the determination of the 12-month and 18-month reference periods used to determine entitlement to unemployment benefits for artists.

  • The 12 or 18-month reference periods shall be suspended for the period from 13 March 2020 until and including 31 December 2020 (instead of 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020 as originally foreseen).
  • The 12-month period ending in the period from 13 March 2020 until and including 31 December 2020 shall be extended until and including 31 December 2020.
  • Employees shall be admitted to the benefit of unemployment benefits without having to fulfil the waiting conditions if they provide proof that between 13 March 2019 and 13 March 2020 they have performed:
    • either at least 10 artistic activities, provided that social security contributions were withheld for these activities;
    • or at least 10 technical activities in the arts sector, provided that social security contributions were withheld for these activities;
    • or artistic and/or technical activities corresponding to at least 20 days of activity.
  • For employees who become entitled to unemployment benefits as a result of these provisions, this entitlement shall cease on 1 January 2021.

Persons who are or have been in one of the situations described above from 1 April 2020 (or 13 March 2020 for the reference periods) may apply for access to or review of their rights.

Sources:

  • Act of 15 July 2020 to improve the situation of employees in the cultural sector, Belgian Official Gazette of 27 July 2020;
  • Royal Decree extending the measures taken in the field of unemployment within the framework of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Belgian Official Gazette of 17 July 2020.

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